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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Multiple Ceremonies Planned for 2024 Commencement


When the class of 2024 graduates from St. Joe’s next year, they will do so in multiple ceremonies over two days, rather than a single undergraduate ceremony for all students, as has been the practice for the first time in the university’s history.

The St. Joe’s Commencement Committee informed the class of 2024 in an email Sept. 26 that commencement for undergraduates will be divided into four separate ceremonies over two days, with one ceremony for each school.

The School of Education and Human Development ceremony will take place the morning of Friday, May 17, while the Haub Business School ceremony will occur that afternoon.

The ceremony for the School of Health Professions and Philadelphia College of Pharmacy will take place the morning of Saturday, May 18 while the College of Arts and Sciences will host its ceremony later that afternoon.

Graduate and doctoral students will be split between morning and afternoon ceremonies on Thursday, May 16, depending on their degree program.

The Baccalaureate Mass will be moved from its usual spot on Friday night to the evening of Thursday, May 16.

Kevin Gfeller ’20, assistant director of public relations, said this year’s changes will allow for a quicker, more individualized ceremony.

“The two-ceremony format that was previously in place could no longer accommodate all of our graduates in a timely or personalized manner,” Gfeller wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk. “With these smaller ceremonies, graduates will now have their names read by a professional name reader, have their Latin honors announced, be able to invite unlimited guests, and hear from student speakers in their own college.”

Each ceremony is expected to last around an hour and a half, with graduates having their primary degrees recognized. The specific major(s) will be noted in each graduate’s transcript.

Additionally, the Commencement Committee announced the location for the commencement ceremonies will change to Hagan Arena.

“High temperatures or rain have affected commencement ceremonies for the last several years,” Gfeller wrote. “So, this move will eliminate that factor for our graduates and guests.”

The committee and University Student Senate also announced they will be collaborating to create a Class of 2024 Block Party during Senior Week.

Alec Mettin ’24, president of Student Senate, said this event is meant to give the graduating class one last chance to celebrate together.

“In lieu of having everybody together at a full commencement ceremony, they want to be sure that there are opportunities for the graduating class to be together,” Mettin said. “So this is really just an informal celebration.”

Mettin said the party will take place on Lapsley Lane, where Regis and St. Thomas Halls, offices of the president and provost, are located, along with the new Jesuit residence, Arrupe Hall.

“They’ll shut down that whole area, and it’s just a time for seniors to get together and celebrate the last four years,” Mettin said.

The day after the announcement was made by the Commencement Committee, Thomas Betterly ’24 circulated a petition “to let the Commencement Committee know that students are frustrated by this announcement.”

In the past, the undergraduate ceremony was held on a Saturday morning, followed by a graduate ceremony in the afternoon. That allowed undergraduate students from all schools to celebrate together.

“I think it’s important to know that there are a lot of upset people,” Betterly said. “There are a lot of people who are disappointed in the university. There’s a lot of people who are not happy with this ceremony. I think it’s important for the university to know that and recognize that.”

At the time of writing, the survey had 110 digital signatures, with 59 respondents adding additional comments.

Out of those 59 additional comments, nearly half mentioned the fact that their high school graduations had been disrupted due to covid-19. Many of these students commented that the changes to St. Joe’s commencement would prohibit them from having the “real” graduation that they had missed out on in 2020.

Ultimately, Betterly said he understands the university’s position but also wanted to give students a voice.

“Too many things happen at St. Joe’s where we just let it happen and we just let the time go by and people don’t speak up,” Betterly said. “And even though I don’t fully agree with a lot of my classmates and peers who are saying these things, I think it’s so important that the university hears this as well.”

Mettin said he is aware of the criticisms but still believes that students will be able to celebrate together despite the changing ceremony.

“What I’m relaying to students is that there are going to be opportunities for that togetherness and that big celebration that we’re looking for, with the Senior Block Party on Lapsley and then with a Baccalaureate Mass and interfaith blessing as well,” Mettin said. “My hope is that that kind of helps to quell some of the concerns.”

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Vincent Kornacki
Vincent Kornacki, News Editor
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